Thursday, December 30, 2010

China, Pakistan reinforce time tested ties

Yuba Nath Lamsal
China and Pakistan have once again demonstrated high level of goodwill and love for one another and expressed their resolve to further expand and nurture their time tested relations for the benefit of the peoples of both the countries. This was truly reflected during the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Pakistan recently. Wen carried enormous goodwill of Chinese people whereas the Pakistani people, irrespective of their political leaning, were highly enthusiastic and overwhelmed to receive the Chinese Premier in their country.
Apart from discussing matters of mutual interests and signing of several agreements and memorandum of understanding concerning bilateral assistance and investment worth more than 35 billion US dollars, the Chinese Premier addressed the joint session of parliament in Pakistan—the rare opportunity that is given to only a few world leaders whom Pakistan respects with high esteem. No world leader ever had such a reception and united response with a spirit of colossal love and respect that Wen got in the history of Pakistan. Although Premier Wen paid official visit to India prior to his trip to Pakistan, New Delhi's approach was more cautious and formal.
In his address to the joint session of parliament, Wen declared that Beijing would never give up on Pakistan and said that government and people of Pakistan are united and moving forward to safeguard solidarity, prosperity, and sovereignty of the country. The remarks of the Chinese leader were responded with thunderous applause from the lawmakers. Cutting across partisan line, all the lawmakers were equally enthusiastic in welcoming Chinese leaders. Earlier, welcoming in parliament, leader of opposition had said ' we are mired in a lot of controversies but on one issue there is not controversy that is relationship and friendship with China".
There is no shade of doubt that China and Pakistan are 'all weather friends'. China and Pakistan are not only neighbours but strategic partners, as well. China and Pakistan established their diplomatic relations in 1951, which have continued to grow and expand even today. The friendly relations between these two countries took a new dimension after the Sino-Indian war in 1962 in which Pakistan offered its moral support to the People's Republic of China. China has always valued Pakistan as a truest friend as its support and cooperation to China during the height of the Cold War was very important. At a time when China was being isolated and encircled by the Soviet Union, India hastened to join the Soviet camp threatening China's security and sovereignty. However, Pakistan not only extended its moral support to China but also acted as a bridge between Beijing and the Western world specially the United States of America. Apart from this, Pakistan has served as a key bridge between Beijing and the entire Muslim world.
Pakistan took the initiative to bring Beijing and Washington closer for which Ayub Khan played a crucial role, which China has highly valued. As a result of Pakistan's initiative, Washington and Beijing worked closely to counter Soviet military adventurism in Asia. This is the reason why Chinese president Hu Jintao once described China-Pakistan relations as “higher than the mountains and deeper than the oceans".
Although Pakistan had been a close ally of the United States during the Cold War, US-Pakistan relations are described as 'fair-weather relations", which have wavered on different occasions. Pakistan has served the US interests and objectives in Asia and elsewhere more than its European partners. Pakistan worked as a frontline state of the United States in the war against Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. In return, US abandoned Pakistan soon after American interests and objectives were achieved in Afghanistan. Even more surprisingly, the United Stated joined hands with Pakistan's arch-rival India and entered into strategic alliance with New Delhi, which was quite unbecoming on the part of Pakistan's genuine friend. The United States' Pakistan policy was guided by marriage of convenience. As Pakistan was heavily dependent on the United States for the supply of military hardware, Islamabad suddenly found itself in awkward position when Washington showed wavering attitude for supplying military equipment.
But China and Pakistan have 'all weather relations' never to be broken and dithered under any circumstances, which have been reflected even today. China has come to the rescue of Pakistan on all fronts from defence to economic and infrastructural development. Currently, China is cooperating with Pakistan in infrastructure development projects like Karakoram highway, Gwadar port, and Chashma nuclear reactors, Kohala Hydel project and Bunji dam project.
As declared by Pakistan's Prime Minister Mohammad Yusuf Raza Gilani, Islamabad indeed takes friendship with China as a matter of pride for Pakistani nation, which was a refelction of national sentiment of Pakistan. As China is growing economically, certain countries in the West have taken it as a threat to their economic interest. Some countries are, therefore, trying to weaken and destabilize China by instigating some criminal and separatist elements with the hope of preventing China's growth and advancement. But Pakistan is firm and consistent in its one-China policy and condemns any kind of attempt to destabilize China. Elaborating Pakistan's position, Prime Minister Gilani said, "Pakistan condemns any attempt to undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
China and Pakistan share common views on several international and regional issues. China has backed Pakistan on Kashmir issue and Beijing has reiterated its stance that Kashmir issue needs to be resolved as per the United Nations' resolution that respects Kashmiri people's right of self-determination. Pakistan has been demanding impartial plebiscite in Kashmir as per the UN resolution on the basis of which Kashmir issue should be resolved. Similarly, China has backed Pakistani position on the issue of India's attempt to get seat in the United Nations Security Council. India is already a South Asian bully which has been the source of security and other problems in South Asia. Supporting India's attempt to get permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council would be tantamount to supporting its hegemonic policy that creates terror in South Asia. China has understood the feelings and sentiments of the people in South Asia and Beijing is, thus, expected to use its influence in the UN forum to take decision in favour of South Asian countries and people. Now Pakistan's main security concern and threat is India's hegemonic policy in South Asia. Assuring Pakistan of all kinds of support, China has always rejected any kind of hegemonic and ill-conceived dominant role of India in South Asia. China also assured Pakistan for its full supports on Pakistani position on the Afghan issue.
As China and Pakistan have best relations, they have decided to celebrate 2011 as the ‘Year of China-Pakistan Friendship' in commemoration of the golden jubilee of the establishment of China-Pakistan diplomatic relationship. Strong and stable Pakistan is the core interest of China's security strategy, whereas strong and favorable relation with China is the fundamental basis of Pakistan's foreign policy. The interests of both the countries have matched, which is the indication that China-Pakistan relations would continue to grow in future.
China-Pakistan relations the best example of good neighbours and true friends. Once China trusts, it trusts forever until and unless there is no betrayal from the other side. China understands the strategic and economic value and significance of Pakistan especially in South Asia, central Asia and the Middle East. Similarly, Pakistan values Chinese support very highly. These common interests have bound China and Pakistan together. China's strong presence and role in South Asia is needed in order to maintain just power balance. Pakistan has understood the value of China's presence and involvement in South Asia more than any other countries in the region. Other countries in South Asia including Nepal, too, need to understand the strategic and economic value of China's presence and involvement and accordingly adopt their South Asia and China policy. China is the close neighbour of many of the South Asian countries as five of the eight South Asian countries share land border with China.
Nepal needs to learn lesson from China-Pakistan relations more than any other country and act accordingly so that Chinese would be more forthcoming in Nepal. China is an economic power whereas Nepal is desperately needing foreign investment. If favorable policies are adopted to encourage Chinese investment, Nepal would definitely see a huge investment from China. At the same time, China is interested to help Nepal more economically so that Nepali economy would be self-reliant and better. But there is always weakness on the par t of Nepal as its policies are often influenced from the pressure of its southern neighbour that discourages Chinese investment and assistance in Nepal.

Parties' Existential Politics

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Asenior leader of the CPN-UML, Pradip Nepal, recently wrote an opinion piece in the TRN’s sister publication, the Gorkhapatra daily, in which he categorically said that all the political parties were devoid of the ideology and principle on which their parties were founded. Citing examples of how all the political parties were inconsistent with the cherished principles and ideology, he portrayed a picture of how Nepal’s politics is heading towards a gamble for power and position. Nepal is one of the most prolific writers of contemporary Nepal, who regularly writes columns in the different newspapers, besides having several books to his credit. He is quite right in his evaluation of Nepal’s political parties and their ideological orientation.
Unpredictable parties
None of the political parties practice what they preach. This inconsistency in principle and practice, and rhetoric and action has made it hard to predict what course of action the parties and leaders will take. When principle, ideology and moral authority cease to guide the parties and leaders, anything is possible, and that makes the parties and leaders unreliable and unpredictable. This is the problem of Nepal’s contemporary politics. The present protracted crisis that has engulfed the nation can be attributed to this tendency of the parties and their leaders.
Existential politics is what has made the parties unreliable and unpredictable. The parties, instead of standing firmly for the cause and ideals they fought for, take decisions that serve the immediate interests of particular leaders and their coteries. It is definitely a difficult task to stick to one’s principles at least in the present situation marked by market politics. Market politics denotes the move made as per the demand of the market, like the quick and immediate gains in a market economy.
Let us take a look at the individual political parties. Let’s begin with the largest party in the Constituent Assembly, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, or UCPN-Maoist. This party was founded long ago, but its activities became more visible only after it launched an armed insurgency. The decade-long armed insurgency, which the party calls the ‘people’s war’, established it as the largest party in Nepal.
The party was founded on the principle of Marxism-Leninism and Maoism. This principle propagates continued revolution through which a communist state is established. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism does not believe in peaceful and competitive politics but wants to capture power through an armed revolution. Guided by this principle, the armed insurgency was launched in which they partially succeeded. The 238-year-old feudal institution of the monarchy was abolished, and the UCPN-Maoist proved its supremacy even in electoral politics. In the elections held to form a Constituent Assembly, the UCPN-M emerged as the largest party in Nepal, although it is short of a comfortable majority.
But viewed from the ideological perspective, the party seems to be deviating from its cherished principle of Marxism-Leninism and Maoism. Marx, Lenin and Mao never advocated peaceful and competitive politics to go to power. An electoral process is bourgeoisie democracy, in which a true communist does not believe.
The Maoist party is currently in a dilemma as to whether it should continue with the course of politics it has adopted right after it joined the peace process or go back to the earlier approach of an armed revolution. Although the party still believes that the ultimate goal is to capture power through a revolution, the issue concerning peace and constitution are its tactical policies to achieve its strategic goal.
The party has already adopted the policy of launching a people’s revolt, which is also contradictory to its ideology. The revolt is something akin to a bourgeoisie revolution but not a communist revolution. The revolt is generally understood as a peaceful public protest aimed at overthrowing the existing regime. The Maoists have not clearly stated what would be the nature of the revolt and what would be its ultimate goal. Will it be similar to the insurgency that it waged in the past? Or will it just be an urban protest like the one launched in Jana Andolan II?
At the same time, there should be clarity as to what the Maoists really want to achieve through the revolt. Does the UCPN-Maoist believe that a revolt would be able to establish a ‘people’s republic’? Or is it just a pressure tactics to go to power? These questions are being raised both within the circle of Maoist workers and in the streets.
The fissures seen within the Maoists regarding the future plan of action have given enough room to the people to doubt about the intention and policy of the party. Three distinct lines surfaced in the Maoist party at the recent Palungtar plenum. Party chairman Prachanda and senior vice chairman Mohan Vaidya stood firmly in favour of a ‘people’s revolt’ aimed at achieving the goal of a ‘people’s republic’ as the present trend does not provide hope for writing a progressive constitution.
However, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, who is also a vice chairman, differs with Prachanda and Vaidya on launching such a revolt immediately. Bhattarai is of the view that the party’s first priority should be to write a progressive constitution and a revolt is to be launched only when the efforts for peace and constitution are blocked.
These differing views have created confusion among the people. The party has to make its position clear to the people on these issues and its priorities. If the party sticks to its ideology it has championed for, the UCPN-Maoist has to go for an all out revolt and seek to establish a ‘people’s republic’ that means a political system that is akin to what Mao Ze Dong established in 1949 through a protracted revolution.
If the party chooses the course of peace and constitution, it would be tantamount to deviating from its revolutionary path and the UCPN-Maoist would be following the course that the CPN-UML has taken. In such an eventuality, the UCPN-Maoist and the CPN-UML will have to merge as they follow identical policies and approach. If the UCPN-Maoist wants to keep its distinct image, it has to continue with the revolutionary course.
As far as the Nepali Congress is concerned, it, too, has markedly deviated from the ideology it cherished. The ideological ground upon which the party was built is democratic socialism. But the Nepali Congress has adopted ultra capitalism which is in sharp contrast to socialist policies. Given Nepal’s social and economic ground reality, ultra capitalism is, definitely, detrimental. The ultra capitalism and rightist policies of the Nepali Congress are mainly responsible for the present sorry state of Nepal’s economy and social structure, which provided a fertile ground for the rapid spread of the Maoist insurgency in the past.
Similarly, the CPN-UML, too, has rapidly deviated from its original ideology and philosophy. The party was created as a revolutionary communist party based on Marxism, Leninism and Mao thoughts. In course of time, the UML abandoned Mao’s thoughts and retained Marxism-Leninism as its guiding principle. In the name of ‘People’s Multi-Party Democracy’, the UML gave up many of the cardinal principles of Marxism and Leninism, too. The ‘People’s Multi-Party Democracy" has totally abandoned the revolutionary path and instead chosen the parliamentary approach to go to power.
Marx and Lenin never supported the parliamentary approach. They described the parliament as a forum to deceive the people. Although CPN-UML still claims to be a communist party, it no longer remains so in practice.
Similar is the case with other existing parties - big or small. The marked inconsistency in rhetoric and action of the parties is the root cause of the present political crisis in the country. As a result, the parties are bigger than the country, politicians are more important than the people. Similarly, power and position are of more importance for the parties and leaders than the interest of the country. Here lies the fundamental flaw which must be rectified by the parties if the country is to move ahead towards the path of peace, prosperity and stability.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

What After UNMIN Departs?

Yuba Nath Lamsal
The public opinion is divided over the role and function of the United Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) ever since it started operation in Nepal. This debate has been more intense and powerful at present. The UNMIN, too, is in dilemma whether the United Nations is to continue or abandon its mission leaving Nepal's peace process in totter.
The UNMIN did not come to Nepal on its own. The United Nations established its good office to facilitate Nepal's peace process upon request from the Nepal Government and the UCPN-Maoist. After the ten years of armed insurgency, the Maoists and seven parliamentary parties entered into an agreement on peace, political transformation and democracy. Accordingly the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between the seven-party alliance and the CPN-Maoist which is the basis for the entire political and peace process in Nepal. Both the signatories of the CPA jointly requested the United Nations to monitor and coordinate the works concerning the management of the Maoist combatants and subsequently facilitating the peace process.
After the written request of Nepal government and the Maoist party, the United Nation signed a tripartite agreement with Nepal government and the Maoist party. The tripartite agreement has clearly specified the mandate for UNMIN to work in Nepal. Since the UNMIN's office was established with the tripartite accord, consultation and agreement among the three signatories are a must to take any kind of decision pertaining to the UNMIN.
However, the decision relating to UNMIN's term in Nepal was taken by the government unilaterally—that too by the caretaker government, which does not have authority to take decision on major issues that may have far-reaching impact. Prior consultation with the United Nations and approval of the Maoists are necessary to take decision on the UNMIN. Here lies the fundamental flaw in the decision of the government. The government is just one party and its unilateral decision cannot be binding for the UNMIN. If the decision is to be made binding, approval of at least two of the three signatories is needed.
Moreover, the job for which the UNMIN was brought to Nepal has not been accomplished. The tripartite agreement on the monitoring of management of arms and armies has clearly stated the role and responsibility of the UNMIN. But the work concerning the management of the Maoist army and their arms, as specified by the tripartite agreement, has not been completed. The UNMIN has, so far, been able to verify the eligible combatants and unqualified combatants including the minors have been discharged from the camps. The verified combatants are living in the seven different camps n different parts of the country which are being supervised by the UNMIN. Similarly, the weapons of the combatants are kept in the containers which are also being monitored by the UNMIN. It has not yet been decided as to what should be done for the verified combatants and their weapons. Unless this issue is finalized, the role of UNMIN would not be complete and the UN mission needs to stay here in Nepal.
The delay in finding an amicable solution to the Maoist combatants and their arms is not due to the UNMIN. The inability of the political parties to arrive at a conclusion, the issue of combatants and their weapons has remained pending. The crux of the problem lies on the modality of the management of the combatants. The political parties have different and diversified views on this issue. The Maoists are consistent enough in their stance that all the verified combatants are eligible soldiers and they should be integrated into the national security agencies mainly the Nepal Army. However, other parties specially the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are opposed to this view and said that the fighters of a particular party should not be integrated into the national armed force. The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are of the view that the combatants are to be rehabilitated back to the society, which is not acceptable to the UCPN-Maoist.
Some parties hold the UNMIN responsible for the delay in management of the Maoist fighters, which is totally unfounded. The role of UNMIN is not questionable. However, the activities of UNMIN in the past have definitely been subject of criticism. In the beginning, UNMIN acted as though it was here to impose its decisions on Nepali government and political parties. The then UNMIN chief Ian Martin was mainly responsible for this and his speeches and activities were not found totally neutral and professional. However, the UNMIN's posture after Martin's departure has definitely improved, thanks to cautious and low key posture maintained by current UNMIN chief Karen Landgren.
The debate whether UNMIN should remain in Nepal until the peace process comes to conclusion is more raging at present. The government of Nepal has already asked the United Nations Security Council that the extension of UNMIN is the final and the UN mission has to pack up upon expiry of its extended time, which is going to be over within less than a month. The United Nations might not have been happy with the decision of Nepal government. Closing its office before its objectives are achieved would definitely be embarrassing to the United Nations which would provide more ground to the critics of the United Nations over its ability and competence.
The political parties are aware that there cannot be more neutral and competent body than the United Nations to oversee Nepal's peace process and the management of the Maoist combatants. Although some political parties have claimed that they would create an effective mechanism to take over UNMIN's job, their ability is questionable. Since the political parties have not been able to form a new government even in five months, how people and the international community should believe that the same parties and politicians would handle such a complicated and delicate job of management of the combatants and weapons.
The parties know that they are not competent enough to do this job. Despite knowing this fact, the parties are demanding the departure of UNMIN. This shows that the parties are not doing it on their own but under pressure or advice from others—possibly the external forces as they are not happy with the UNMIN's presence in Nepal. Once UNMIN departs, certain external forces that have vested interest in Nepal would start poking their nose in Nepal's peace process and army management.
Now the Maoists are pushing for another extension of UNMIN's tenure at least until May 28. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal is against extension of the UNMIN while the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML want reduced mandate of the UNMIN if its tenure is to be extended. This shows that the parties still want UNMIN's need in Nepal.
Moreover, this is the question related to Nepal's relations with the United Nations. Sending UNMIN without achieving the objective for which the UN mission was established would not only embarrass the United Nations but also raise question of Nepal's credibility in the UN forum. The United Nation is the world body which has been active in peace building in different troubled spots in the world. If there are any apprehensions about UNMIN's role and activities in Nepal, it can be raised with the United Nations Security Council through a proper channel and get them settled through mutual dialogue and negotiation. But the decision on UNMIN taken by the government is influenced more by the partisan interests and internal political disputes than Nepal's overall national interests and necessity.
Against this background, the parties are, thus, expected to consult one another and reach a certain conclusion on UNMIN so that there is a united voice of Nepal in the UN. In a democracy, partisan differences are natural but such differences should not influence the relationship with other countries and the international organizations like the United Nations. Now the parties need to tell the people frankly how they would exactly resolve the issue of the Maoist combatants and give a specific time table and plan on the basis of consensus among the major parties. But the parties are not in a position to trust one another and arrive at a mutually agreed conclusion on this issue. This scenario is a testimony that the role of the United Nation is still necessary in Nepal and UNMIN should stay until the peace process takes a concrete shape.

Obituary: Tribute To Gothale

Yuba Nath Lamsal
An acclaimed fiction writer and playwright Govinda Gothale breathed his last on December 13, 2010. He was suffering from multiple ailments. With Gothale’s demise, an era of Nepali literature has come to an end.
He is the second generation writer of modern era of Nepali literature who has contributed to all genres of literature. Born as the eldest child of Riddhi Bahadur Malla and Ananda Maya Malla at Ombahal, Kathmandu on July 9, 1922, Jaya Bahadur Malla, as was his original name, became a famed writer under the name Govinda Gothale. Born in socially and politically conscious family, Gothale got opportunity of education even when education for the commoners was restricted. He received primary education in Benaras, completed secondary level education from Durbar High School and higher education from Tri Chandra College.
When Gothale was young, the country was under Rana oligarchic rule. Inspired by family members, elders and friends, Gothale was interested in democratic politics and got involved in it. Political activities had been totally restricted at that time and Gothale soon fell victim to Rana rulers’ wrath. It is this reason why he did not use his original name in his writing and wrote under the name of Govinda Gothale to avoid government’s intimidation.
His father Riddhi Bahadur Malla had established a press and also started the publication of Sharada literary magazine. His house was, therefore, a meeting place of writers and intellectuals. The academic and literary environment made Gothale an avid reader and also a writer. When Siddhicharan Shrestha joined Sharada magazine as its editor, Gothale learnt a lot from Siddhicharan about literature and writing. He got inspiration for writing from Siddicharan Shrestha while friendship with Gopal Prasad Rimal and Laxmi Prasad Devkota made Gothale a modern writer.
Gothale began his literary journey as a poet. His first poem ‘Mamta’ (Affection) was published in ‘Sharada’ in 1996. Since then, he continued to write until his late life. Gothale has written poems, fictions and plays that established him as an admired literary icon of Nepal.
Gothale worked as a journalist too. He edited ‘Sharada’ and ‘Awaj’ a daily newspaper, for some years. But his concentration was more on Nepali literature. Although he has contributed to different genres of literature, he is basically a fiction writer and playwright. Gothale began writing with short stories. His first story ‘Tyasko Bhale" (His Rooster) was published in ‘Sharada’. When he wrote another story ‘Maile Sarita Ko Hatya Gare’ ( I Killed Sarita), Gothale instantly became popular as a writer. ‘Katha Sangraha’ (Collection of Stories), ‘Kathai Katha" (Stories),‘Prem Ra Mirtyu’ (Love and Death) and ‘Barha Katha" (Twelve Stories) are Gothale’s popular books containing short stories.
As a story writer, Gothale has mainly dealt with inherent conflict within human beings and in the society. He has examined the inner conflicts and presented them in an artistic manner. Gothale’s stories are basically focused on social and cultural background in which the existing mental faculties and social realities are carefully examined. As a realist and existentialist writer, Gothale’s realism is slightly different from other realist and existentialist writers. Gothale’s realism is based on social values and intellectual consciousness of the characters.
The psycho-analysis based on realism is yet another trait of Gothale’s stories. In the stories, Gothale wants to deal with the problems and finally comes up with the solution. The characters are found engrossed in the thought of getting out of the problem. In dealing with these problems, the characters are often found to be in mental conflict and at times unable to decide. Unlike Bisheswar Prasad Koirala’s overt sexual psychological analysis and Bhavani Vikshu’s analysis of suppressed sexual psychology, Gothale’s psychological analysis is based on social realities. Gothale’s other quality is the analysis of crime psychology of his characters.
In the stories written before 1951, he has focused on child psychology. Laxmi Puja is an example. In this story, he has examined the psychology of a young child – Lal. In story ‘Nidra Ayena’, he has dealt with how even a minor issue creates an impact on the mind of a young child like Gyani.
Gothale is equally successful as a playwright. His plays are: ‘Bhus Ko Ago’ (Fire in Husk), ‘Chyattieko Parda’ (Torn Curtain) and ‘Dos Kasaiko Chaina’ (Nobody’s Fault). ‘Bhus Ko Ago’ and ‘Chyateyeko Parda’ are complete dramas whereas ‘Dos Kasaiko Chaina’ is a collection of his several one-act plays. Some of his popular one-act plays include ‘Bhoko Ghar’ (Hungry House), ‘Atma Darshan’ (Self-enlightenment), ‘Yugko Shikar’ (Victim of Time), ‘Prajatantra Achar Talim Kendra’ (Democratic Conduct Training Center), ‘ Phuteko Bandh’ (Broken Dam) and ‘ Kranti Ko Pristabhumi’ (Background to Revolution).
Having already been established as a successful story writer and dramatist, Gothale entered into the genre of novel writing only after 1951. ‘Palloghar Ko Jhyal’ (Window of the Next House) and ‘Aparna’ are his two acclaimed novels.
Gothale’s novels have social themes and present psychological analysis of the characters and contradictions of the society. Gothale’s novelistic quality is to elaborate analytically and artistically ordinary issues that exist in the society. ‘Pallo Ghar Ko Jhyal’ is one of the popular novels written in Nepali language. The plot of the novel moves around a traditional middle class family that is suffering from traditions and social and cultural contradictions.
Gothale’s other novel is Aparna, which also has a social theme based on a women’s psycho-mental analysis. Gothale’s novels are successful and popular. However, ‘Pallo Ghar Ko Jhyal’ is better and more qualitative.
His stories and novels have proved Gothale’s high degree of psycho-analytical skill as a writer. Apart from his reputation as a psycho-analytical writer, he is also a human, social, realist and experimental author. In his stories and novels, he has experimented different themes in a realist manner.
Gothale is not guided solely by the old notion of idealism but he wants to bring about change in thinking and action. He tries to dig out the hidden problems in the society and analyze and examine minutely in his stories, novels and dramas. As a fiction writer, he is dealing with human life, human psychology and social outlook. His works are thus the mirror of his time. In recognition of his literary contribution, Gothale was honoured with different awards and medals.
The icon of Nepali literature in general and Nepali fiction writing in particular, Govinda Gothale no more with us. But his contribution to Nepali literature has made him immortal. Nepali literature would always remain indebted to Gothale. It would be unfair if we fail to pay tribute to this accomplished Nepali writer.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wen Jiabao's trip and its implication in South Asia

Yuba Nath Lamsal

Recently, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao paid a state visit to India and Pakistan which has been viewed as a cornerstone of China\'s South Asia policy. The remarks Wen expressed during his stay in New Delhi and Islamabad are definitely indicative of the fact that Beijing attaches greater priority to South Asia in the changed international scenario. Wen began his South Asia trip from India where he interacted with people from a cross section of society including political leaders, officials, business community and cultural and civil society leaders. During his meeting and interaction in New Delhi, he gave a firm and deliberate message that Beijing is keen to enhance pragmatic relations of all kinds with India irrespective of the long-running border dispute and other issues. Economic and cultural cooperation and exchanges figured more prominently in the agenda of bilateral discussion. More importantly figured the trade issue. Beijing and New Delhi laid special focus on boosting bilateral trade setting the target of increasing trade to 100 billion US dollars by 2015. Currently, bilateral trade between China and India stands slightly over 60 billion US dollars. China\'s interest is more on economic and trade cooperation, which Beijing views as an important vehicle to reinvigorate bilateral relations that would mark a clear departure from the old hangover of conflict and suspicion. The Chinese Premier has given the message of Beijing\'s willingness to see bilateral relationship with India as they were during the \'Hindi-Chini bhai bhai\' era irrespective of some pressing issues that are yet to be settled. With India, Beijing has long-running border dispute over which these countries fought a war in 1962. China has claimed over a huge part of territory India has occupied. The entire Arunachal Pradesh is a disputable area, which China claims to be the South Tibet taken forcibly by British colonial rulers when China was weak and was engaged more in its internal problem. China wants the border with India to be redrawn based on historical evidences. The McMahon line which was drawn unilaterally as a border between China and India by British colonial power has not been acceptable to Beijing and it wants back the territories as they historically belonged to China. Despite past hostilities, China wants to bury the hatchets and begin a fresh to have friendly and cordial relationship with India. But it largely depends upon the response and reciprocity of New Delhi, which seems not to have fully understood the Beijing\'s benign motive. India does not seem to have got rid of the old hangover and it still sees Beijing as its enemy, perhaps because of its new alliance with the United States, which dubs China as its security threat. India has always adopted anti-China policy and entered into security alliance with other countries against China. During the Cold War era, when Russia was China\'s main security threat, New Delhi hastened to enter into strategic and security alliance with Moscow clearly targeting against China. Even now, India\'s policy to contain and weaken China has not ceased but intensified. The latest US-India strategic alliance is its evidence, which has irked Beijing to some extent. Despite New Delhi\'s dubious nature, Beijing is open and willing to have friendly and cooperative relationship with India. In fact, China does not see India as its security threat. This view was well and more clearly expressed by Premier Wen in New Delhi who said that \'China and India are not competitors but partners\'. Wen demonstrated similar posture in Islamabad which was viewed more positively by the government and people of Pakistan. China and Pakistan concluded some deals worth 15 billion dollars. Additionally private sectors of both the countries signed 20 million worth of business deals to be initiated jointly. During his stay in Islamabad, Wen assured that China would always be in Pakistan\'s side at the time of difficulty, which was reciprocated by Pakistani counterpart that Islamabad always valued China and its friendship, goodwill and cooperation with utmost importance. In fact, China and Pakistan are all-weather friends or friends in need. For China as well, Pakistan carries special significance and China has been providing all kinds of assistance and support Beijing can offer. At a time when India has adopted hostile policy towards both China and Pakistan, it is Beijing\'s responsibility to cooperate with Pakistan for its own security also power balance in South Asia. The support that China has been providing to Pakistan is also guided by its neighborly attitude but not intended against any other countries. Beijing\'s South Asia policy is motivated by its security and economic interests. There are, of course, some natural allies of China in South Asia. Beijing wants to further nurture the cordial and cooperative relation with South Asian neighbours to cope with newer challenges which would benefit the people of China as well as these countries. Except India, China\'s relations with all South Asian countries are excellent. However, China also does not have any ill-will even against India. But India suffers from the old hangover which has been the main stumbling block for further developing Sino-India ties and settling the remaining issues including border dispute. Beijing wants to have more cooperative and constructive relations with all South Asian countries because China shares border with five of the eight countries of the region. Beijing is pursuing the \'neighbour first\' policy on the basis of which it is vigorously pushing for friendly ties and mutual cooperation among its neighbours in South Asia, though it is not its front yard. Beijing has perfectly friendly and cordial relations with almost all countries of South Asia including Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan. Since it has common border with five South Asian countries, Beijing definitely has its security interests. The 1962 war and territorial dispute with India, India-US strategic alliance, terrorism in South Asia, India-Pakistan tension and Kashmir problem are some of the issues that have raised Beijing\'s security concerns vis-a-vis South Asia. Additionally, Beijing\'s concerns are related to anti-China activities sporadically carried out by some separatist and criminal elements. Although India has adopted one-China policy under which it has accepted Tibet as a part of China, the separatist groups occasionally carry out anti-China activities which have received support from groups in India and also in Nepal. New Delhi has often instigated Tibetan separatist and criminal groups against China, which is a matter of security concern for Beijing. China has already grown as the second largest economy. It is a matter of pride for South Asian countries because our next door friend is a global power. With its economic might, China\'s clout in the international arena has also grown, which Beijing wants to utilize for the benefit of the developing countries. South Asian countries, too, can take benefit from China\'s development and prosperity. China is a bridge between South Asia and East Asia. China has already an observer status in the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), an association of eight South Asian countries. Now it would do well if China is brought to the SAARC as a full-fledged member because it is very much the part of South Asia. China\'s involvement would make SAARC more vibrant and effective with both resources, international clout. China is also interested to get involved in the South Asian regional grouping. So far SAARC has been India-centric because of various reasons including its size, population and economic strength. China\'s involvement in the SAARC would also be a countervailing factor in the SAARC. With China\'s entry into SAARC, this group would be the association of the almost half of the people in the world—biggest international body after the United Nations. It would not be justice to grant China with the status given to far away countries like Japan, South Korea and the United States. Wen Jiabao visit to South Asia\'s two largest members— India and Pakistan—is an indication that China wants to play more constructive and cooperative role in South Asia and its development. It is a good opportunity for South Asia to bring China—the world\'s economic power—into the SAARC forum as a full-fledged member. It is now up to the South Asian countries to take benefit from China\'s benevolent policy towards South Asia.

Journalist by default

Yuba Nath Lamsal

It had never been my ambition to be a journalist. But it was by default that I joined this profession in which I have already spent more than two decades of my life.
Reading was my hobby. But writing was not my cup of tea in the beginning. Later I came to realize that only writing can make a man better and give more exposure. This realization inspired me to write. In the beginning, I used to write in Nepali and later I switched over to English as it was my major subject in college and university. The initial writings were so poor that I could not even dare approach the newspapers and magazine editors to publish my write ups.
I began my career as a journalist with a vernacular weekly that too was a party's mouth piece. It was Dristi weekly, which used to be published as a mouth piece of CPN-UML (then CPN-ML). It also happened by default. As a student and a school teacher, I was an activist of the CPN-ML during the now defunct Panchayat regime. The party assigned me to work in the party paper—the office of which had been located at Kalimati.
This was the beginning of my career as a journalist. The more I worked the more stimulus it gave me to pursue journalism as a profession.
Those were the days when political atmosphere was not conducive for free press. During the Panchayat regime, opposition was not tolerated. Political parties and political activities were restricted. So was with the press. Newspapers and magazines which were critical of the regime and rulers were often harassed, seized and even closed. The official media had wider reach, bigger circulation and more influence. The private papers, mostly weeklies, had also been divided into pro-government and anti-government. Most of the pro-government papers used to be run under the patronage of the state and financially backed by certain power center or politicians. These newspapers practiced more yellowish journalism.
The anti-government papers had to face not only wrath of the rulers but had also to work under severe financial constraints. The journalists working in these papers had to be every thing from reporter, editor, manager to publisher and financer. It was a kind of mission for democracy rather than a professional journalism. Despite these hardships, journalist pursued and practiced journalism with a zeal and mission for the cause of democracy and freedom.
The papers I was working with often came under severe attack from the state as it was sharply critical of the Panchayat and its rulers. Several editions of the papers were seized and editors and staff were arrested and kept behind bars, which was almost the regular phenomenon. The officials would go through every sentence and stuff and cesor harshly. Practicing journalism under such a circumstance was always a threat and pressure. Despite these harsh and adverse conditions journalists kept on keeping the struggle for democracy and freedom alive.

Entry into the Gorkhapatra Corporation:
The private press was not an attraction for those who wanted to make journalism as a career during those days. The private media were not as they are today. They were unable to pay good salary to the journalists as their income was meager. While the anti-government papers were under such a miserable condition, the pro-regime papers financially flourished and people working in these newspapers lived a lavish life. But in the eye of the people, they are always rated the worst, whereas the anti-government papers had won wide public faith and trust.
Although owned by the government, official media had credibility. From the financial point of view, the official media were the attraction. All renowned journalists had one way or the other served in the official media, In fact, the official media served as training and educating institutions for many a journalists in Nepal.
In the beginning, I did journalism for a hobby but not a profession. When I joined journalism, it attracted me slowly. But I had not fully decided whether I should make journalism as profession. The entry into The Rising Nepal was a turning point in my life.
My entry into The Rising Nepal was also a coincidence. I used to contribute articles to The Rising Nepal, which used to give both exposure as well as pocket money. One day when I was in the editorial office of The Rising Nepal, a senior editor asked me if I was interested to join paper. My reply was affirmative. Then he asked me to apply for the sub-editor as there had been an advertisement for the same. It was his advice that brought me to The Rising Nepal. If he had not told me I would not have been in the Gorkhapatra Corporation as I was not aware of the advertisement.
Working in editorial section was both easy and hard. Easy in the sense, it was like a family atmosphere. All colleagues were friendly and cooperative and no envy, joyously and leg-pulling, which existed in other depart of the Corporation. It was difficult because we always had to work under pressure. The specter of fear kept on haunting as one would lose job if there is a slight mistake on the news especially relating to the royal families.
Those days of fear disappeared after the restoration for multi-party democracy in 1990. We started enjoying more freedom. But the democratic era also were not free from problems. The parties and leaders who were in power would always want our publications not to go against their interests, which was very unfortunate. As a result the publications of the Gorkhapatra Corporation have not been able to make significant progress. The trend still continues. The 1990 change did bring openness in the official media as well. The post-1990 period also saw a height of factionalism on ideological ground in all sectors including the Gortkhapatra Corporation, which marred the corporation's overall well-being.
After the Jana Andolan II, Nepal has entered into a new phase. Political parties are campaigning for creating a new Nepal—a federal republican Nepal with equal access to power, resources and decision making for all citizens irrespective of their ethnicity, culture and regional identity. This notion has to be put into practice in every sector. The Gorkhapatra Corporation, which is a history of Nepali journalism, should also be transformed in line with the vision of creating new Nepal. But the changes have still not
been visible. The old working style and mentality can never bring about change and create a new Nepal. Perhaps, the Gorkhapatra Croporation needs to pay due attention to bring about positive changes in its publications which would make the publications more popular among the people. For this, structural and organizational change is necessary so that the Corporation can be people's publishing house.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

UNMIN’s Role In Nepal

By Yuba Nath Lamsal
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, in his report to the Security Council on UNMIN, recently expressed his displeasure over the delay in Nepal’s political and peace process. According to him, the comprehensive peace agreement did not fully negotiate the future of the armies, but confined itself to defining the processes, which are yet to commence, with regard to both the special committees and the parallel commitment to an action plan for democratisation of the Nepal Army.
The Secretary General’s report states that the delay was due to the behaviour and attitude of the political stakeholders of Nepal especially the political parties. However, he failed to mention that the role of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) was just as responsible for this situation.
Heaping criticisms
Ever since UNMIN came to Nepal at the request of the Nepal government and the Maoists, the UN body has never been free from criticism. In the beginning, the Maoists were very critical of UNMIN’s role in Nepal, and some of the Maoists leaders dubbed the UN body’s role as being biased and against the mandate given it. At that time, the other major parties defended UNMIN and sought for its extended and active role in Nepal’s peace process.
When UNMIN came to Nepal, the peace process had just started. As per the tripartite agreement between the United Nations, the seven-party government headed by Girija Prasad Koirala and the CPN-Maoist, the role and responsibility of UNMIN were to monitor the management of the arms and armies. Later UNMIN acted with more enthusiasm and vigour, which gave new hopes to the people.
The enthusiasm with which UNMIN acted in the beginning sometimes went beyond its mandate. However, no political forces, except the Maoists, raised any concern about the role of UNMIN. The silence of the other parties could be understood because UNMIN’s activities were critical and opposed to the Maoists. During that time, a top Maoist leader, who is now in the cabinet, accused UNMIN of playing the role of an activist and opposition party rather than as an independent peace monitor. Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘ Badal’ even went to the extent of saying the relevance of UNMIN was over.
As the situation changed, so did the role of UNMIN. After the Constituent Assembly election was held and the Maoists came to power, differences were seen in the attitude and activities of UNMIN. Once critical of the Maoists, UNMIN’s position changed once the Maoists led the government. This change of role and position of UNMIN brought criticism from the other forces in Nepal.
The Maoists had always been critical of UNMIN. But in recent times, other parties, in particular the Nepali Congress, have also joined the bandwagon against the UN body. Its acting president, Sushil Koirala, is among the Congress leaders that has fired salvo after salvo at UNMIN. The Nepali Congress leaders if of the view that UNMIN has not acted fairly in Nepal. Referring to the woes of the people who were displaced by the Maoists during the insurgency, Sushil Koirala said that they have not been able to go home as the Maoists have refused to return their property, and due compensation has not been paid to them by the state.
It has been clearly stated in the peace accord signed between the Government of Nepal and the CPN-Maoist in the presence of all the political forces, civil society and the international community that the seized property of the people would be returned to their legitimate owners, and the displaced would be allowed to return home and live a normal life. However, many displaced people are still living miserable lives in the district headquarters and in the capital.
Similarly, the recent remarks of UNMIN over the recruitment issue of the Nepal Army have also come under fire. Leaders of the other parties claim UNMIN kept quiet when the Maoists were recruiting people in its PLA whereas the same UN body has been critical towards the regular recruitment process of the Nepal Army.
So far as the recruitment issue is concerned, no side, Nepal Army and Maoists’ PLA, is allowed to recruit people in their armies. However, recruitment for the vacant posts does not violate the peace accord. The Maoists are now not in no mood of accepting the fact that the recent recruitment in the Nepal Army was compatible with the comprehensive peace accord.
However, Maoist leaders, including Prime Minister Prachanda, have time and again expressed the commitment to return all seized property to the owners. But, according to the victims, the Maoist cadres at the local level have not complied with the peace accords as well as the pledges made by their own leaders. It is not only the Nepali Congress but all the political parties, civil society and the international community that share a common view that the peace accord must be followed in both letter and spirit, and all seized property must be returned immediately.
Whatever the accusations or counter accusations, it is certain that the role of UNMIN has not been satisfactory. The peace process has been delayed not only because of the political parties but UNMIN as well. UNMIN has come under fire because it has failed in its responsibility that was clearly stipulated in the tripartite agreement. People are now raising questions as to how long UNMIN should stay in Nepal. The UN body, thus, has to make its timetable clear and specific. That would also give the political parties and the government of Nepal a clear message that the United Nations would take its hands off should the UN not act in time.
UNMIN’s relevance
The tenure of the UNMIN is being extended every six months, and for the first time questions have been raised about the sincerity and capability of UNMIN. The criticisms from all sectors are a testimony that UNMIN’s functioning in Nepal has some serious flaws and weaknesses. Since UNMIN has already lost its credibility and support of all the political stakeholders, the significance and relevance of UNMIN to remain any longer in Nepal is, perhaps, over. The crucial part is the management of the Maoist combatants. In this process, no development has been made. Even the political parties have yet to agree on a modality to manage the PLA fighters. Since UNMIN has little to do with the management of the PLA combatants except to monitor the peace process, there is little need for keeping a big mission in Nepal.

UNMIN, Its Role And Irritants

By Yuba Nath Lamsal
Amidst appre hensions and reservations about its role, the caretaker government has extended the tenure of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) for another six months, while calling for a sharp reduction in its size. Although it has not been clearly stated how big it should be, it is a message to the UN mission that its role and activities are not wholeheartedly welcome in Nepal.
Objectionable role
The UN mission was established not on its own but at the request of the Government of Nepal and the CPN-Maoist. Its mandate, as stated in the tripartite agreement among the Government of Nepal, CPN-Maoist and the United Nations, is to monitor the peace process, which includes aiding in the Constituent Assembly election and managing the arms and army of the Maoist.
One important chapter of the peace process has been complete with the successful conduct of the Constituent Assembly election. Nepal now is in the process of writing a new constitution, which is an even more important aspect of the peace process. But with the completion of the election, the role of UNMIN is almost over except for overseeing and helping in the integration and management of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its arms, which are now confined to different cantonments.
Since the work of UNMIN has been drastically reduced from monitoring the peace process and holding of the Constituent Assembly election to facilitation of the management of the arms and armies of the Maoists, the number of its staff and size must be reduced. Although UNMIN was invited in good faith, its role has been objectionable to some of the political forces. The CPN-Maoist was at the forefront of inviting the UN mission to supervise the peace process in Nepal. But after UNMIN established its mission, some of its activities have not been appreciated by some.
Maoist leaders have been most critical of UNMIN’s role. Senior leader of the CPN-Maoist Ram Bahadur Thapa "Badal" openly expressed his displeasure with UNMIN’s role at a public function. According to Badal, UNMIN has been behaving more like an activist rather than carrying out its monitoring role. The Maoists are unhappy with UNMIN because of its activism and unnecessary interference in Nepal’s affairs. The Maoists are of the view that the peace process got delayed partially because of UNMIN. It could be a coincidence or pre-planned, but the voice of some Western powers and UNMIN tend to match vis a vis the Maoists in Nepal.
Even Nepal’s neighbours are suspicious about the role and activities of UNMIN. Both China and India are unhappy with the UN body’s presence and its activities. Both these countries hold a common view on UNMIN and want its early exit from Nepal. India’s displeasure with UNMIN is understandable as India’s perception is that UNMIN came to Nepal with an agenda of the Western countries, in general, and the USA, in particular. American presence in South Asia has always been unwelcome for India as New Delhi does not want any foreign powers meddling in its backyard.
US presence is already heavy and huge in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although US and Indian interests match in Afghanistan, New Delhi is wary of the American presence in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives and Bhutan. This is so for a number of reasons, including New Delhi’s desire to play the role of regional leader in South Asia.
Sri Lanka is an example of how the tussle between foreign powers has ruined the island nation. The conflict in Sri Lanka escalated over the years largely due to external factors. In the 1980s, Sri Lanka was a leading country in South Asia in terms of economic growth, education and other development indicators, and Colombo was looking for support and a partnership with the West to further speed up its economic growth and development.
The Tamils in northern Sri Lanka had started their movement for an autonomous state, but the movement was weak and feeble. Colombo mooted for a military and strategic partnership with the West and Israel in the early ‘80s to strengthen the capability of its armed forces to curb the simmering Tamil insurgency.
India was suddenly awakened by this move of the Sri Lankan government and saw the military and strategic partnership between Sri Lanka and Israel as a serious threat to India’s security as well as its desire to be a regional power in South Asia. India, thus, used the Tamils as an instrument to prevent the Western powers and Israel from coming to Sri Lanka. Similarly, the strong strategic, military and economic partnership between the US and Pakistan has always irked New Delhi. South Block is of the perception, wrongly or rightly, that Islamabad, with the backing of America, poses a security threat to India.
Thus, the strong presence and activities of UNMIN are unwelcome for India. Moreover, some Nepalese as well as our neighbours have dubbed UNMIN’s role more like a US mission than a UN one.
China’s ire against UNMIN can also be understood. The Chinese view on UNMIN is similar to that of India. China has been particularly vulnerable by the growing anti-China activities in the name of the ‘Free Tibet’ campaign. Beijing’s perceived view is that anti-China activities in Nepal have suddenly intensified in terms of volume and frequency after UNMIN came to Nepal.
Some of the remarks and activities of UNMIN’s chief, Ian Martin, have often come under criticism from different political parties. Moreover, UNMIN has not been able to live up to its promises and mandate. The election to the Constituent Assembly was held successfully not because of UNMIN but due to the will and commitment of Nepal’s political forces. So UNMIN has little to claim success in Nepal, especially in relation to the election and peace process.
UNMIN should be concentrating on managing the Maoist combatants and weapons. However, on this front, very little progress has been made. The living conditions of the Maoist PLA members are very poor. UNMIN has not been able to suggest any concrete ways to manage the PLA members, without which the peace process will not be complete and sustainable.
Deadline for UNMINAgainst this backdrop, the government has asked UNMIN to reduce its size. The UN mission cannot and should not stay for an indefinite time and must be given a specific timeframe to accomplish its job. UNMIN’s presence is an irritant for our neighbours, which ultimately may have some negative ramification on our relations with them, which Nepal can ill afford. Thus, the UN mission now needs to accomplish its job as early as possible and pack up.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nepal-India relations need new beginning

Yuba Nath Lamsal
As goes an old but apt maxim: One can choose a friend but not a neighbor. Thus one has to adjust relations with neighbor and deal accordingly—be it with individual relationship or ties between the two neighboring countries. Neighbor is always there in the next door and one cannot ignore it.
So far as Nepal's relationship with its neighbors is concerned, the Himalayan republic is always in dilemma in dealing with its neighbors. Nepal has two giant neighbors—China to the north and India to the south. Nepal has absolutely no problem with its northern neighbor—China after both the countries entered into diplomatic relation. But Kathmandu is faced with multitude frictions and irritants with India, which has surrounded Nepal from three sides.
Ever since Nepal was created as an independent political entity, it has been finding a tough time in defending its territory and safeguarding national independence. There were some minor frictions with the northern neighbor which triggered Nepal-Tibet war on a couple occasions. But those conflicts were resolved to the best interest of both countries, in which Beijing had demonstrated magnanimity towards smaller neighbor. As a result, the relationship with northern neighbor had no problem. Nepal and China have always enjoyed friendly and cooperative relations from the time immemorial. The relations between these two nations have been perfectly exemplary in the modern time especially after the establishment of the diplomatic relationship more than 55 years ago. China attaches greater importance to the relationship with Nepal whereas Nepal considers China as its true friend and development partner.
Nepal has problem only with its southern neighbor—India. Be it under the colonial rule or after independence, India's policy has caused irritation in neighboring Nepal. Most Nepali people believe that India is the main stumbling block of Nepal political transformation and economic development. When Nepal was in the unification spree, the British India came as the roadblock to Nepal's mission of its expansion. War broke out between Nepal and British colonial rulers in India. The war ended with signing of the Sugauli Treaty, which resulted in the loss of a significant size of its territory by Nepal. The Sugauli Treaty has determined the border between Nepal and India even today.
Despite losing sizable territory, Nepal, somehow, maintained its independence posture—sometimes by coaxing British colonial power and sometimes by confronting and intriguing. As a result, we can proudly claim to be the citizen of the ancient and independent country which had never been under the foreigners' rule. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India were British colonies and were one country—British India. After British left the Indian sub-continent, three countries emerged immediately. They are Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. These countries were born in 1947. Out of Pakistan, Bangladesh was created in 1971. These are new countries only about 63 years old. Bangladesh is even younger country even less than 40 years old. But Nepal was created 240 years ago as an independent and a unified country and has remained independent throughout its history. Nepal is, thus, one of the oldest countries in Asia. Nepal is, thus, not a part of Indian sub-continent but an ancient country of Asia that has its own language, history, culture and tradition.
But India has always ignored this historic reality. Even some historians and analysts tend to subscribe to Indian school of thought which claims that the culture in the entire South Asia is an offshoot of Indian civilization. How can the culture of a young country be a mainstream culture of the entire region when there are quite old and ancient civilizations and cultures continue to exist from the ancient time?
Compared to Nepal, India is a young nation which was created in 1947. India has been dominating its neighbors because of its geographic, economic and military size. India has been trying to manipulate in the internal affairs of smaller neighbors, which is quite aversion to the universally accepted international laws, diplomatic norms and values. As a result, India is the most hated country in South Asia. In all South Asia countries, anti-Indian sentiment is very strong, which is New Delhi's own making. All South Asian countries have problem with India and these problems are getting complicated every day which are the prime reason for anti-Indian sentiment in South Asian countries. The problem with its neighbors has impacted in creating bad image of India in the international arena.
Since India has border with all South Asian countries except Afghanistan, these countries have to adjust their policy with India. None of the neighbors , in fact, have any ill-will against India and its people but are against New Delhi's hegemonic policy. Nepal is a case in point that gives the overall picture of India's policy towards its neighbors and opinion of the neighbors about India and its policy. India has always tried to bully Nepal and create problem. If surveyed scientifically, more than 80 per cent Nepalese would perhaps disapprove India's Nepal policy. The recent case of open interference in Nepal's internal politics has further annoyed Nepalese people. It is the direct interference of Nepal that has blocked the process of election for the prime minister. The largest political party of Nepal—the UCPN-Maoist— has more openly and candidly opposed India's interference and vowed to fight Indian hegemony. But New Delhi has done everything possible to prevent the Maoists from leading the government. Now India has also realized that the reason behind the growing anti-Indian sentiment in Nepal is because of its own policy and its wrong handling. New Delhi is mulling to make some changes in its Nepal policy. The current ambassador Rakesh Sood is being made a scapegoat and all blame is being put on Sood for creating rift and misunderstanding between Nepal's Maoist party—the largest political force of Nepal— and New Delhi. It is learnt that India is making preparation to call back ambassador Sood to mend relationship with Maoists. It is true that Ambassador Sood's attitude and style are part of the problem in fuelling anti-Indian sentiment in Nepal. But the ambassador is not the root of the entire problem. The fundamental problem is the overall policy of New Delhi, which must be rectified and reoriented.
Now New Delhi seems to have begun to realize the problem. The realization is also a good indication to begin for change which shows that New Delhi is trying to change its policy towards its Nepal in general and Nepal in particular. Nepal and India are two sovereign countries and active members of the United Nations and other global and regional forums including the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Nepal wants to nurture its relations with India on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. If India, at all, changes its hegemonic policy and genuinely wants to develop relations with Nepal on the basis of five-principle of peaceful co-existence, both the countries would benefit. India has to accept the reality that its Nepal policies have miserably failed, which has created friction with its neighbor. India's current Nepal policy would ultimately harm New Delhi more than Nepal because Nepali people who have once fought with British imperial power to keep its independence intact, would never accept India's hegemony and domination. Thus, these two countries now need to begin a fresh to make bilateral relations friendlier, more cooperative and cordial that would be able to face the newer challenges in the present changed international context.
The initiative should first come from New Delhi. To begin with, all unequal treaties and agreements Between the two countries including the 1950 Treaty must be scrapped and replaced by accords made on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. This would be beneficial for both Nepal and India. The ball is, now, in the court of New Delhi and if it genuinely comes up with good intention and with changed policy, Nepal-India relations would be exemplary for the world. Nepal and India are neighbors and they cannot change their geographic location. As the close neighbors, they must cope with one another. If relations continue to get sour, that would not be in the interest of both the countries. If something goes wrong in Nepal, India will also face its fallout because of closeness and open border. New Delhi must realize the fact that the coercive policy that India has adopted so far in Nepal has totally failed and instead created more problem.

Unparliamentary exercises in parliamentary system

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Debates and discourses on the possible course of Nepal’s politics are being held more outside Parliament than inside. This is why Nepal is faced with its worst political deadlock in modern history. The parliament is the supreme body of people’s elected representatives, and they should be the ultimate arbitrator of the country’s problems and politics. But the reality is something else as the parties and leaders take decisions on national issues inside some dark room outside Parliament and get their decisions endorsed by the House as a formality and for legitimacy.
Rubber stamp
In a way, the parliament has become a rubber stamp of the leaders - most of whom were either rejected by the people during the election or did not contest the polls for fear of being defeated.
Nothing can be a bigger irony than this. The elected representatives of the people sit idle for not having anything to do in the House whereas a handful of leaders decide on issues outside Parliament. This is a big insult to the people and their representatives. Those who were rejected by the people rule the political roost in contemporary Nepal.
Also look at the composition of the cabinet. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who was rejected by the people from two constituencies - Kathmandu and Rautahat - in the Constituent Assembly election held two-and-a-half years ago, leads the government. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sujata Koirala and Minister for Defence Vidya Bhandari were also defeated in the election. But they are the ones who talk the loudest about democratic norms and values.
There are 600 members in the parliament who are qualified and have won the trust of the people. In the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML also, there are qualified, elected lawmakers who would make better candidates in the cabinet. Instead of handpicking someone who has been rejected by the people, it would have been better if elected representatives had been chosen for the cabinet posts. This would have won better confidence of the people while doing justice to the people’s verdict and democratic values.
The practice of handpicking someone outside the parliament as ministers is not a healthy practice and will only erode the trust of the people in the political system and in the leaders, and will ultimately weaken the parliamentary system.
More ironical is the mismatch between the rhetoric and practice of the leaders and the parties. The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are the ones that champion parliamentary system of democracy. Even when the UCPN-Maoist pushed for a presidential system, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML pressed hard for the parliamentary system. But their action has weakened the value of the parliamentary system as choosing someone from outside the parliament for a cabinet post is not in accordance with the parliamentary system.
The parliament is seen as an obstacle by the political parties in taking arbitrary decisions. When the parties and government find it difficult to get something endorsed by the parliament, the government immediately prorogues the House session and announces ordinances. There have been several instances in the past where the government either prorogued the session of Parliament or dissolved the House when the government failed to get something endorsed by the House. This incident was repeated in the present parliament when the process of presenting the budget was disrupted by the Maoist lawmakers. The government rushed to end the House session and brought the budget through an ordinance.
Vandalism in the House is also not appropriate parliamentary behaviour, which must be condemned. But more objectionable is the decision to end the House session as a retaliatory measure, which the present government did.
Since the parliament is the supreme body of the people’s representatives, all issues must be debated and solutions sought in Parliament. Any attempt to avoid the parliament is not parliamentary behaviour. There are several issues pending in the House which must be sorted out through debate and discussion among the people’s representatives in Parliament, for which a parliamentary session should have been summoned earlier. But there have been attempts by the government and some parties to skip Parliament and run the country through ordinances, which is a conspiracy against democracy and the parliamentary system.
Now the session of Parliament has been summoned. The House has been summoned upon the written request by lawmakers belonging to the UCPN-Maoist and some fringe parties. This exercise is being played for the first time after Nepal entered the peace process and the interim constitution was promulgated. The summoning of the special session has irked some parties, including the ruling CPN-UML. The prime minister has expressed his displeasure in public over the summoning of the special session by the president without prior consultation with the head of the government.
Under normal circumstances, the president summons the House session upon request by the prime minister. But this is not a normal situation, and the president did not feel it necessary to consult the government to summon the special session. Since a fourth of the lawmakers made a written request, the president is constitutionally obliged to summon the session. This is a constitutional obligation which the president must respect.
Consultation with the government is necessary while summoning the regular session of the House. While making submission for summoning the special session, the objectives and agenda of such a session need to be clearly specified in advance. In the request, the lawmakers have specifically stated that it is to facilitate the procedure for the formation of a new government.
Although the objective of the special session is to facilitate the formation of a new government, it is not yet certain whether the session will achieve its objective. It gives one the impression that the parties are now eager to form a government, for which they may change their previous stances. But their agenda and views are different, which are guided more by partisan interests.
The Nepali Congress has objected to the summoning of the special session and demanded a regular session instead to decide the issue of electing the next prime minister as the candidacy of its leader Ram Chandra Poudel is still pending. The Congress wants to revive this process and get its candidate declared elected as prime minister since Poudel is the sole candidate. However, the other parties are of the view that since the earlier session was prorogued, the whole process of the prime ministerial election has also been cancelled automatically. According to them, a new process has to be started to elect the prime minister.
The objection of the Nepali Congress can be understood as the special session cannot take up issue discussed in the regular session. The legality of Poudel’s candidacy would, therefore, be in question. The CPN-UML is divided over this issue as a section is against the special session. This faction in the CPN-UML is in the mood of supporting the Nepali Congress candidate. However, the other faction is against Poudel’s candidacy and wants to begin anew the election of the prime minister.
Yet another faction in the CPN-UML, which is very small, wants to prolong the present crisis and lengthen the life of the caretaker government. Prime Minister Madhav Nepal is also not comfortable with the special session as it may break the present deadlock, which would mark the end of the days of the caretaker cabinet headed by him.
Change stance
Whatever the logic and positions of the parties, the session has been summoned. The special session should not be wasting time in electing the next prime minister. The parties should seek a solution in the House through open debate and discussion on the basis of parliamentary and democratic procedures. The House should by no means be made hostage to the indecision and petty interests of the parties and a few leaders. If need be, the parties must change their earlier policies to end the protracted political deadlock. This is what is expected from the special session by all.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Maoists' correct assessment on India

By Yuba Nath Lamsal
The sixth plenum of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) concluded a fortnight ago in the historically important district of Gorkha. It was perhaps the biggest political gathering of this kind in the modern political history of Nepal. After extensive deliberations, the largest political force of Nepal came up with its own assessment and decision on several issues that include domestic policies as well as the international issues and relations.
The issue concerning India\'s role in Nepal\'s domestic policy dominated the discussion. The Maoist conclave raised high the banner of patriotism. After heated deliberation, it made the assessment that India is the principal obstacle on the path of Nepal\'s political transformation and development and also a threat to Nepal\'s sovereignty. This conclusion was reached with overwhelming majority.
There were two clearly distinct lines regarding the role of external elements in Nepal\'s internal affairs. Although there different documents presented by three different leaders namely party chairman Prachanda, vice chairpersons Mohan Vaidya and Baburam Bhattarai, only two viewpoints appeared on India\'s role in Nepal. On this issue, Prachanda and Mohan Vaidya stood one side and Baburam Bhattarai put himself in other camp.
Prachanda and Vaidya were of the view that India has directly interfered in Nepal with its malicious design to keep the Himalayan republic under its control. As the Maoists have been raising the issue of patriotism, the Maoists have been the direct target in the present context of Nepal. In every political turmoil and instability, there has always been India\'s hand. India always helps topple the patriotic regimes and install its own agents in the government. The recent one is the circumstances created to force the Maoists out of power last year. India was directly involved in the conspiracy to oust the Maoists from power. The army chief issue was just a pretext but there was a serious Indian conspiracy to topple the Maoist-led government in which Nepali parties and politicians acted as the agents of New Delhi.
One also needs to remember the recent history of not more than 15 year ago when the UML government was also forced out of power within nine months despite it being the largest force in parliament. Until then the UML was a patriotic force which not very much liked by India. The role UML played when Tanakpur Treaty was signed with India with some unequal terms. The people supported the UML patriotic stance and it emerged as the largest party in the second general election. As the largest party, the UML formed the government but was ousted within nine months of its formation in which India\'s hand was visible. After this event, the UML took a U-turn in its foreign policy to toe the line of India. It started its loyalty to India just to go to power which was clearly seen during the time of parliamentary ratification of Mahakali Treaty. The UML was vertically divided over the issue and it lost its popular base because of compromise on national interest.
The similar approach was adopted by India after the Maoists went to power immediately after the Constituent Assembly election. By orchestrating a design to oust Maoist from power and install and Indian puppet regime, India wanted to teach the Maoists a lesson and ultimately bring this party into its fold. However, the Maoists launched a crusade against Indian design instead of going to power with India\'s support. New Delhi has intensified its interference to keep the Maoists out of power. The brazen interference of India could be seen in the election for prime minister.
Against this background, what Prachanda and Vaidya have analyzed is correct. They have indentified India as the principal enemy against which the party must fight to safeguard Nepal\'s sovereignty and independence. The Maoists, thus, want to liberate the country from India\'s domination and hegemony. This view was overwhelmingly backed by the participants.
Bhattarai\'s views are slightly different. He is of the view that India is not the principal enemy at present instead the domestic comprador and bureaucratic capitalism should be made the target of party\'s attack. Bhattarai, however, accepted that India is the main threat to Nepal\'s political transformation and economic development. But his argument is thatIndia would automatically be defeated once its agents in Nepal are defeated. According to him, it would not be wise to directly confront with militarily powerful India. Instead, he wants to build national economy first and then counter India\'s hegemony based on Nepal\'s economic strength. But Bhattarai\'s idea did not gain much currency in the plenum.
Being a communist party, the UCPN-Maoist has opposed all forms of imperialism and regional hegemony. According to the Maoists, the US-led imperialism and Indian expansionism are the external threats to Nepal and the Nepalese people. But they take India as the main threat and obstacle because of its class character and past tract record. Although India was liberated from British colony in 1947, Indian rulers have continued the colonial policies so far as their relationship with its neighbours are concerned. In principle, the Maoists consider the United States of America as an imperialist and anti-communist force. But the party does not consider America as the principal threat and enemy at present.
In the present international scenario, United States-led western countries, China and India have different outlook, approaches, priority and strategy in South Asia including Nepal. The United States and China want to see Nepal as an independent, stable and prosperous country, whereas India is always effortful in weakening and destabilizing Nepal so that it could always interfere and manipulate in Nepal\'s affairs.
New Delhi\'s intention is to keep Nepal under its security ambit which can be well substantiated by its various proposals put forward to Nepal\'s beleaguered rulers on various occasions. When Rana regime was on its way out, India hastened to sign 1950 Treaty which has been dubbed as an unequal treaty. The 1950 treaty has governed Nepal-India relations. Nepal\'s patriotic forces have been demanding abrogation of this unequal treaty and sign a new treaty on the basis of equality and mutual reciprocity and mutual benefits. However, India wants continuity of the treaty. The Maoists, too, want abrogation of 1950 treaty. When the 1990 political movement against the Panchayat regime had been picking up, India proposed some harsh proposals which aimed at clearly limiting Nepal\'s sovereignty. Nepal refused to give in to Indian conditions. Similarly, when 2006 movement was in its height, similar proposal was put forward to Nepal. This shows that India always wants to take benefit from Nepal\'s political crisis, which implies that India is behind every political crisis in Nepal including the one that we have witnessed at present.
While the Maoists are harsh on India, they are a bit soft with the United States and the western world. Their views expressed in the plenum and elsewhere are indicative of the fact that they want to build a new kind of relationship with the western world based on mutual equality and friendship. Even with India, they are prepared to mend their relations if New Delhi abandons its hegemonic policy towards Nepal. The Maoist meet, thus, will have a long-term impact on Nepal\'s political and foreign policy front. At a time, when Nepal\'s other political parties and leaders have toed the India\'s policy at the expense of Nepal\'s national interest, the Maoists have raised the patriotic banner which has won the heart of patriotic Nepali people. This should not be a mere expediency to go to power. Even in the past, the CPN-UML had also been raising the issue of nationalism so strongly but it later betrayed the people for power. The patriotic people have now pinned their hopes on the Maoists. The Maoists, therefore, need to live up to popular expectations and keep the banner of patriotism alive. It by no means should give in to New Delhi in exchange of power. The Maoists, thus, must learn lesson from history and their political future is bright as long as they uphold the banner of patriotism.

Nepal's Parties In Internal Turmoil

By Yuba Nath Lamsal
Hopes are low and scepticisms are high in Nepali politics. This is mainly because of the behaviour of Nepal’s political parties and their leaders. The public faith in the parties and leaders has dwindled so badly that people do not believe that the current crop of politicians can lead the country to a better future. The parties and their leaders have a credibility problem.
Nepal’s major political parties are in internal turmoil. Although a split is not seen in the immediate future, these parties ultimately may not be in a position to remain united for long. The unity within the parties at the moment is just a temporary adjustment for their convenience and not based on ideological and political ground.
Divided parties
Given the way the parties are functioning, they have already broken into different factions. But they refuse to acknowledge that the parties have split, and claim that they are united and one in the party, although they openly clash and contravene party discipline. The leaders have their own factions within the party and operate separate offices where the supporters assemble and chalk out strategies.
Take at look at the election for the prime minister. All the three major parties are divided on who should lead the next government. The leaders and their factions are not prepared to accept the leader of the other faction of their own party for the position of prime minister. Instead they are offering the coveted position to the rival parties. This divided mentality of the party leaders will not keep them united under the same party for a long time.
This is a chronic disease prevalent in all the parties. There is no single party that is devoid of factionalism and factional rivalry. The bigger the party, the more the factional fighting. Look at the three main political parties, namely, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML. All these parties have different groups and sub-groups, which are in a nasty fight over power and position.
The UCPN-Maoist is the largest political force and the most disciplined as well as organised party in Nepal. Despite its hard discipline, the party, too, is suffering from factionalism and factional fighting. They describe it as a two-line struggle in the party, which was vividly seen in the recently held sixth plenum at Palungtar of Gorkha district. The debate was open, and criticism against one another was fierce.
But at the end they proclaimed unity and vowed to work together in a united manner to tackle the present political crisis. They reached the conclusion that there was no alternative to a revolution, transformation and unity. It is yet to be seen whether this message of unity would be translated into action. Since the plenum has just concluded, only time will tell what course of action the Maoists will take in the future.
No sooner did the Maoists resolve their differences at the sixth plenum than the problem surfaced in the Nepali Congress. The Nepali Congress national convention concluded sometime ago, and the party leaders and workers have described the national convention as a mega event to demonstrate unprecedented unity within the party. But this spirit of unity has hardly worked in the real sense. Even months after the conclusion of the convention, in which the party president, some officer bearers and some central committee members were elected, the newly elected party president has not been able to enlarge the central committee by nominating some officer bearers and central committee members.
As per the statute of the Congress, the party president must nominate some office bearers and some central committee members. The party constitution requires the nomination proposal put forward by the party president to be endorsed by the party’s elected central committee. The elected president - Sushil Koirala - has not been able to get his proposal endorsed by the central committee. Not only has the rival faction led by Sher Bahadur Deuba put the sword against the party president’s proposal, demanding a dignified share for this faction in the central committee, Koirala’s own camp has been divided over the issue.
The onetime Koirala loyalists have shown dissent over the party president’s choice of the remaining office bearers. Party president Koirala chose Ramchandra Poudel and Krishna Prasad Sitaula for the post of vice-president and general secretary. But some of the influential and senior leaders of the Koirala camp have openly spoken against the party president’s choice. It has created a situation where if a vote was to be held, the party president himself might be rejected. Given this situation, the party president has postponed the central committee meeting for some time so that he can try and convince his own supporters.
The Nepali Congress is, thus, already divided, mentally. It had split once already, and had reunited at the initiative of late Girija Prasad Koirala. Although united in principle, the two factions remain split emotionally. The party leaders, especially those who belong to the Deuba faction, have openly claimed that the party has not been emotionally unified. The party president has, therefore, now a big challenge to take the party ahead in a united manner. But he has not been able to take them all - both loyalists and detractors - along.
Similar is the case with the third largest party - the CPN-UML. The factional fighting is worse in this party than in the others. The three factions are openly challenging one another. While the struggle between the two groups in the Nepali Congress is for party position and the struggle within the Maoist party is based on ideology, the UML’s factional fighting is meant at negating and eliminating the existence of the other groups and leaders belonging to the rival factions.
Currently, there are three distinct factions in the CPN-UML - Khanal group, Madhav group and Oli group. The respective stances taken by the three groups on the prime ministerial election say it all. Party chairperson Jhalanath Khanal wants to grab the post of prime minister in the name of consensus. And he is even prepared to get the post through any kind of alliance with any party.
However, Oli has opposed this idea and has instead backed the Nepali Congress candidate Ram Chandra Poudel for the post of prime minister. Madhav Nepal has his own strategy and that is to further widen the rift between the Khanal camp and Oli group. He seems to be quite comfortable with the status of caretaker prime minister and wants to prolong this situation.
The leaders and factions are, therefore, calculating the gains and losses out of the present political equation. Leaders are not even concerned with the interest of their parties let alone the interest of the country and the people. This way, the leaders have shown their selfish motive, which is responsible for the present crisis. If this tendency continues, neither the constitution will be written nor will the peace process come to a conclusion. This means that the country is destined to return to the old days of conflict.
The UCPN-Maoist has announced that it would launch a decisive revolt if the constitution is not written and the peace process is not concluded in time. The extended life of the Constituent Assembly will be over in the next five months. Given the lackluster performance of the parties and representatives in the Constituent Assembly, the constitution is not likely to be drafted within the extended schedule as well. The life of the Constituent Assembly has already been extended for one year and it would not be justified to extend its tenure again.
Acting responsibly
No one can forecast what the situation of the country will be after May 28, 2011 if the constitution is not written. The situation would definitely be precarious. Despite the grave mistakes committed by the parties and leaders, yet there is no alternative to the parties. Thus, the parties and their leaders must act more responsibly by rising above their partisan and personal interests to avert the looming crisis of the country. As long as the parties are entangled in the internal imbroglio they will not be able to find an amicable solution to the country’s problem. One cannot expect the leaders to resolve the national crisis when they are unable to manage their own internal problems.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nepali Maoists' India policy

Yuba Nath Lamsal
The Palungtar plenum of the UCPN-Maoist is over. Much has been written about the plenum. Some issues were overblown, some exaggerated and some under reported. Still there are issues that have not been reported in the media at all.
On the coverage of the Palungtar conclave, the Nepali media clearly stood on two sides. Accordingly, they had two different and distinct views on the Maoist plenum. The media did not stand in between but appeared divided between the pro-Maoist and anti-Maoist camps. This conclusion could be made from the angle of their coverage.
Divided camps
The pro-Maoist media reported that the Palungtar plenum was an example of grand unity and success. Viewed on the basis of organisation and management, the mega event was definitely a success. The meeting of more than 7,000 people was organised in a flawless manner. It was, no doubt, a Herculean job to manage such a big conference that includes logistics like food and accommodation.
Palungtar is a small village in the hilly district of Gorkha with a population far less than the number of people - delegates, observers, volunteers and journalists - who had gathered in Palungtar for the conclave. Almost 7, 000 of those present were delegates. If the security personnel from the government side and the UCPN-Maoist, volunteers and journalists were to be added, the total number would exceed 8, 000.
The event was perhaps the biggest political event of its kind in Nepal’s political history. No other party has the capability to organise such a mega event with such grandeur.
Organising such a mega event on a small rural plateau was definitely a difficult job. But the event was successfully held without any complaints. From another point of view as well, the Palungtar conclave was successful and historic. In the plenum, the debate, discussion, criticism and self-criticism were so lively that they generated genuine intra-party democracy in the party.
The participants, based on media reports, put forth their views and ideas candidly and openly, which is rare in the other parties of Nepal. Some participants made scathing remarks against the leadership, which can hardly be imagined in the other parties. This is a high-level exercise at promoting internal democracy in the party, which dismisses the claims and criticism by the other parties that dissent is never tolerated in a communist party. In fact, the Palungtar plenum of the Maoist has proved that communists alone practice genuine democracy within their party.
This aspect was not raised and reported by the media in a positive tone. Instead, the debate, discussion, criticism and counter-criticism were seen by the media as an exercise at splitting the party. In fact, any political party that is formed on ideological basis can be consolidated only when debates and discussions are allowed in a free, frank and constructive manner. That is what happens in a communist party.
There is another side of the story. Some media outlets have dubbed the Maoist plenum as a big fiasco. A section of the media has even described this exercise as a prelude to a formal split in the UCPN-Maoist. This section of the media sees everything wrong in the Maoist party and its plenum. But the media have not been objective enough in analysing the Maoist plenum and its outcome.
It was neither a grand success in terms of concrete outcome nor a fiasco. If analysed objectively and impartially, the Maoist plenum had messages and lessons to be learnt by the other parties, too.
Three different sets of ideas had surfaced in the plenum. But this was part of a two-line struggle that always takes place in a genuine revolutionary communist party. The two-line struggle is the ideological life of a communist party. This is not a new phenomenon in Nepal. There was a fierce struggle between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in Russia prior to the October Revolution, and it continued even after the revolution and establishment of the Soviet socialist regime. The live and vibrant two-line struggle ideologically sharpened the Russian Communist Party and made it capable of launching the successful proletariat revolution. Similar was the case with Mao’s Chinese Communist Party.
The two-line struggle is an ideological battle between the revolutionary and revisionist policies. In the absence of a two-line struggle, the party slowly becomes ideologically inept and ultimately degenerates into a revisionist and rightist party, which is the case with several of Nepal’s communist parties.
Those who take the two-line struggle as an exercise at breaking up the party have not understood communist ideology. The three sets of idea that surfaced in the Maoist party are not three opinions.
Three senior leaders put forward three different documents. But in essence, they can be divided into two sets. They have differences mainly on three issues. One is concerned with the definition of principal contradiction, second is with the evaluation of history and the third is related with the party’s tactical policy.
On the issue of principal contradiction, Prachanda and Mohan Vaidya stand together, while Baburam Bhattarai has an opposing view. Prachanda and Vaidya are of the view that external forces, mainly India, and domestic ‘comprador and bureaucratic’ forces have mingled to stop the progressive and revolutionary force in Nepal. According to them, the domestic forces are not acting independently but on the advice and instruction of the external forces.
Although they have not spared the ‘US-led imperialist force’, they do not see America as the immediate threat in the present context, perhaps, because of its distant location and its own internal crisis and engagement in other parts of the world. Their fury against India was reinforced by their inability to go to power even after being the largest political force in Nepal, which the Maoists attribute to India’s manipulation.
However, Bhattarai is of the opinion that India is not the principal enemy at present but the domestic comprador and bureaucratic elements protected and patronised by India. He proposed directing the attack on the domestic forces and not on India.
On the issue concerning the party’s tactical policy, Prachanda and Baburam are closer whereas Vaidya is far apart. Prachanda and Baburam have defended the party’s tactics since the Chunbang meeting that adopted the policy of establishing a democratic republic. Based on it, the party reached a 12-point agreement with the other parties and joined peaceful politics. The duo defend this policy and want to move ahead peacefully to draft the new constitution and complete the peace process.
They are of the view that the party should go for nationwide revolt only when the other parties block the process of drafting a progressive constitution. However, Vaidya sees fault in the party’s tactical policy of democratic republic. He wants revolt and peaceful politics simultaneously to establish a ‘people’s federal republic’. Here lies the fundamental difference.
On the question of the party’s working style, Vaidya and Baburam are together as they have criticised Prachanda for his ‘arbitrary style of functioning’. They have proposed a system of collective leadership.
These are the fundamental differences. On every issue, there are two opposing views not three, although three leaders presented documents. This is an example of two-line struggle being practiced all over the world. The participants put forth their views on the documents and the proposition of the three leaders. There was one voice among the participants that there is no alternative to transformation, unity and revolt. The participants warned the leaders to act in line with the sentiments of the people who want transformation in the leaders’ thinking and way of life. This alone would create the ground for practical and emotional unity in the party, which is necessary for a decisive revolt.
Having assessed the sentiments and views of the participants, the leaders vowed to transform and act accordingly. This was the outcome of the Palungtar plenum of the Maoists. This can be dubbed as the victory of the participants and not any particular leader or faction.